It goes without saying that to enjoy music reviewing, you have to also enjoy the discovery and research of an album just as much as writing about it. And that doesn’t mean just the good records from your favorite bands. It means every album you get your hands on. But, even if I could review just the good records and albums from my favorite groups, I’m not sure I would want to. I have to say, while I love reviewing records from my go-to groups, there’s something fun and stress-free about grabbing a record from an unknown band. It’s like watching the World Series between two teams you don’t care about. You’re going to make four-to-seven evenings out of it and you don’t have to worry about the tension or superstition that goes with it. And this brings us to Norway’s Ghost Avenue and their sophomore release, Impact.

I chose Impact because it has two things going for it—one good and one I hoped to make fun of endlessly. What it has going for it is a sound that blends ’80s Dio with Iron Maiden and Metal Church. I don’t care who you are, this shouldn’t be an issue for anyone. What its got going against it is the band name. But, as it turns out, this five-piece was once the proud owner of a simple, more obvious name. A stronger name; one stripped from them for obvious reasons. So, I will give these guys a break on their silly name. After forming in 2002, these guys began kicking up dust with 2010’s debut The Engraving (under their Ghost moniker) before changing their name and forging ahead in a solid-steel DeLorean, packed from bumper to bumper with rock ‘n’ roll fuel.

One aspect of Ghost Avenue‘s future that needed changing was the ’80s cock-rock found on The Engraving. This doesn’t mean their self-titled Ghost Avenue debut isn’t filled with cheesy rock ‘n’ roll and the lyrical ramblings of a functional alcoholic, but, goddammit, that’s growth. The songwriting on Ghost Avenue is more to the liking of the ’80s metal greats and the instrumental and vocal performances are significantly better. The band may have continued to rehash good ole days even after the name change, but it’s just too much fun to hate. Which, I guess, makes me an “old” motherfucker who likes it when “old” motherfuckers play “old,” motherfucking music. Judge me all you want. I ain’t ashamed and I don’t give a shit what you think.

And, neither do Ghost Avenue—seeing that they are starting to make a decent career out of it. This time around, the band pushed hard on their own envelope; roaring across the Earth’s atmospheric fringes with even better songwriting, even better performances, and some seriousness to their material. “Impact” is the first to careen along the ether, dropping a heaviness, vocal addictiveness, and a war-themed attitude unseen by Ghost Avenue (or Ghost before it). Though Kim Sandvik’s hair-metal vox remain, the title track has the testicular fortitude to shush naysayers. But “Impact” doesn’t have shit on bruisers like “Time Traveller” and “The Edge of Darkness.” Both are head-bang happy and, while the latter makes me think of Mel Gibson, it has the hookiest chorus on the disc.

“The Edge of Darkness” may be my favorite of the record, but the band has a secret weapon that makes a song like “Time Traveller” better than it should be. That weapon is Magnus Liseter’s bass. I wouldn’t compare it to heavy-metal god Steve Harris, but the bass has real presence here. One that keeps tracks like “Escape,” “Affection,” and “Collateral Damage” from falling to the wayside. Sandvik’s vocals also work their ass off to bring life to many of these old-school tracks. His infectious vocal arrangements give life to “Escape” and his Maiden/Church and Maiden/Dio choruses on “The Prison” and “Dancing with the Devil” allow them to surpass mediocrity.

Even so, songs like “Affection,” the aforementioned “Dancing with the Devil,” and closer “The Ace” don’t quite have the punch to keep me coming back. And, while I rather enjoy the ballady “Construction,” the whole thing is an energy zap of cheesiness. Still, this is Ghost Avenue‘s best release to date. Its seamless flow from one track to another works to its favor and its stronger songwriting results in a more balanced end-product. As you can tell, there ain’t much new headed down the mystical Ghost Avenue. But, that’s OK. All I wanted was something simple, with hooks like those of an deep-sea fisherman. And  that’s what I got.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Pitch Black Records
Websites: pitchblackrecords.bandcamp.com| ghostavenue.com | facebook.com/ghostavenue
Releases Worldwide: February 3rd, 2017

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  • antitayyip

    cover is cool

  • madhare

    Judging by the photo, these guys don’t take things too seriously. Which is always a good thing. And the two tracks that are available on Bandcamp both sound pretty fun too. despite my doubts about retro. Need to give this a spin or two once it’s out. So, thank you!

    PS. You called the album “sophomore” but Bandcamp says: “Norway’s GHOST AVENUE return with their third album”.

    PPS. I totally dislike you guys using “sophomore” to describe albums. Because a) it’s not a term used outside US, and b) AMG writers overuse it. Next time try going for a simple “second album” instead. Just for the variety, eh? :D

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It was intentional and a joke. Thought I explained it pretty well in the review…

      Also, “sophomore” is indeed one of the most overused words in metal reviews and people keep telling me that. So, I used it just to get a rise out of everyone. Looks like it worked. :)

      • madhare

        Ah! Sorry, I totally missed that one. :)

      • Name’s Dalton

        The pandemic is not exclusive to metal genres, I might add.

  • Matt slatz

    Hey,. Are those the stunt doubles from the hangover?…….Good music though

  • Feytalist

    This is great. Listening to the released songs, I think I spontaneously grew a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off.

    Sounds like all the good parts of Axel Rudi Pell combined. And I really like ARP.

  • Wilhelm

    Simple, evocative heavy metal. Have we heard this before? Sure, but usually not this thought out. To me, it sounds like a Maiden/Rage hybrid and the production is nice and live sounding.

  • On to the cheese we needed to have at the edge of darkness!

  • GardensTale

    This band epitomises “Eh, it’s alright.”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I didn’t know the “Gangnam Style” guy had gone Metal until I saw this promo picture.

    • gerard espinosa

      You nailed it!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This sits right at the crossroads between True Metal and Hair Metal. Which is a good thing in my book.

  • Treble Yell

    Band photo brought to you by Michael Bay.

  • Here’s Johnny

    hmmm its fun but its distinctly average fodder really.

  • h_f_m

    The embed reminds me a lot of Night Demon which I dug their debut full length Curse of the Damned. Had never heard of Ghost Avenue before somehow. Thanks.